Are Blackwater’s days in Iraq numbered?
The Iraqi government has said it won’t be issuing a new operating license for the contractor, which is the prime security company for the US Embassy in the country.
It’s hard to blame the Iraqis. Blackwater has several times been accused of using excessive force. In 2007, its guards opened fire in a crowded street, killing 17 civilians. The guards were charged with voluntary manslaughter and are awaiting trial.
According to Iraqi officials, it was this incident that prompted them not to renew the license, reports the Washington Post.
There’s a bit of a catch though. The Post adds:
Blackwater employees who have not been accused of improper conduct will be allowed to continue working as private security contractors in Iraq if they switch employers, Iraqi officials said Wednesday.
And according to Wired magazine, that’s exactly what could easily happen. It reports:
The State Department has a contract for “Worldwide Personal Protective Services” with three firms: Blackwater, DynCorp, and Triple Canopy. If Blackwater is no longer allowed to operate in Iraq, a lawyer steeped in the field tells Danger Room, there’s no legal reason why the other two firms can’t scoop up Blackwater’s employees. “State simply issues a new task order to DynCorp or Triple Canopy, who turn around and hire some or all of Blackwater’s employees,” he says.
So we may ultimately find out whether the string of violent acts we’ve seen from Blackwater guards were the result of the company’s culture itself — or the types of personnel they hired.